Farmer’s Bread: Flour, Water, Time, Yeast and Salt

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I love a great farmer’s bread, the recipe is from Jim Lahey, owner of the Sullivan Street Bakery. I’m not a Professional baker however I Looooove bread and I have been baking his recipe for some time. His baking cookbook My Bread has interesting recipes with many photo illustrations which are very helpful. I hope others enjoy this book as much as I do. The basic recipe for the farmer’s bread comes out looking and tasting almost like sourdough bread and the smell of freshly baked bread that just came out of the oven is pretty amazing.

This recipe will give you a guaranteed result and great fresh bread.  The recipe is for one 10″ loaf. I double or triple the recipe, however, if you are thinking about baking more than one loaf at a time I recommend using two Dutch ovens. It makes everything so much faster and so more efficient

Farmers Bread

Crusty Farmers Bread, Flageolet Beans, and hard-fried Egg

Farmers Bread

Time and patience:

When making bread, the one thing you need is time and patience.  It takes time for the dough to rise, which in the end, will create a bread with a wonderful flavor and crust.  The recipe uses a small amount of yeast, because of this, the dough needs to rest and ferment for a longer period of time.  Why use less yeast?   Traditionally, it is said that rising the dough very slowly, with a little yeast, builds better flavor and aroma.

Farmers Bread

The method is simple:

Flour, salt, water, and little yeast, create a no-need dough.  However, the dough has to ferment for at least 14 to 16 hours.  I usually mix my dough on a Saturday at 9:00 am and bake my bread the next day at 9:00 am.  So my dough is fermenting and rising for 24 hours.  The longer you ferment the dough, the more intense the flavor.  Place the dough in a bowl and cover the dough with a little olive oil, finally cover the bowl with a kitchen towel, place at room temperature, relax and let the little invisible creatures (Bacteria) take over.

The salt in this recipe is added to enhance flavor.  If you are on a low or zero sodium diet, you can adjust the recipe to match your needs or even bake it without the salt; however, the flavor will change. Drizzling and covering the dough with a little olive oil will avoid crust building during fermentation.
Also, make sure to use lukewarm water, if you use cold water with a low yeast preparation, the rise of the dough can take up to 36 hours.

The  tools you need:

A Dutch oven is key for developing a perfectly crusty crust and keeping the inside perfectly moist, a 5-quart Dutch oven creates a tight seal so the steam that develops during the baking cannot escape. The other tools I recommend are using Pyrex Glass measuring cups, they are dishwasher, freezer, microwave, and preheated oven safe. Another good tool to have is a good thermometer to measure the water temperature.

Crusty Farmers Bread, Green Chickpea Hummus,
Pickled Mustard Seeds and Sardines

Farmer's bread

Farmers Bread

Rest the bread: 

Once you bake a crusty Farmer’s bread in a Dutch oven you realize how awesome freshly baked bread can be. One piece of advice from experience, there is a huge temptation to cut into the bread the moment it comes out of the oven.  However, my recommendation is to let the bread rest for at least one hour before cutting it.

Bread freezes well.

Let cool completely; then transfer to an airtight bag or vessel for as long as 3 months. To store the bread, let it cool completely; then transfer to an airtight bag or vessel and leave it at room temperature.

Farmers Bread

Grilled Farmers Bread Manchego Cheese Sandwich
Lamb Meatballs, Sweet and Spicy Tomato Jam

Farmer's Bread

Farmers Bread

Farmers Bread: Flour, Water, Time, Yeast and Salt

Chef Norbert
A recent poll of Germans in the US found that the thing Germans miss the most is their bread. This old-world loaf of bread is amazing and brings back great memories.
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 1 hr
Resting Time 1 d
Total Time 1 d 1 hr 15 mins
Course Better for you
Cuisine German
Servings 10
Calories 150 kcal

Recommended Equipment

Dutch Oven
Pyrex Measuring Cups
Kitchen Thermometer
Bread Lame

Ingredients
 
 

Instructions
 

Heat the water

  • Measure the water and put it in a Pyrex Glass Measuring Cup, heat in the microwave for about 40 seconds, then take the temperature with a meat thermometer to make sure it’s around 100 F., not more
    1 1/2 cup lukewarm water

Mix the dough

  • Add flour, dry yeast, and salt to a mixing bowl and mix well. Add the warm water and by hand, mix to create a soft, sticky dough. Do not knead the dough, the less you knead need the more airy the bread will turn out 
    3 cup bread flour, 1/2 tsp dry yeast, 1 tsp kosher salt
  • When all ingredients are mixed, drizzle and cover the dough with a little olive oil. The olive oil will prevent the dough build a crust during fermentation. Cover the bowl with a towel and place it on the kitchen counter at room temperature for at least 16 hours. The dough should double in volume during that time. 
    1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Fold the dough

  • Once the fermentation cycle of the bread is completed and the dough surface is dotted with bubbles lightly flour a work table and place dough on it. Flatten the dough fold it into thirds and then fold it into half. 
  • Gently form dough into a ball dust with flour. Cover with a cotton towel and let rise another two hours. When it is ready, the dough will be more than double in size and will not readily spring back when poked with a finger.

Preheat oven to 450 F

  • Half an hour before baking place your Dutch oven in the oven and heat the oven to 450 F

Place dough on parchment paper

  • Cut a parchment paper into a circle larger than your Dutch oven. Remove dough from the towel, and place it on parchment paper, that has been dusted with cornmeal. At this point, before putting the dough in the Dutch oven you can use a sharp knife or razor blade to make a few cuts about 1/2″ deep in the top of the loaf.

Bake the bread

  • Grab the parchment paper, lower it into the 450-degree Dutch oven, put on the lid, bake for 30 minutes, after 30 minutes remove the lid and bake additional 20 minutes to brown the bread. Remove bread from Dutch oven and let cool before cutting

Chef Notes

Lately, I use 1.5 cups of whole wheat flour and 1.5  cups of King Arthurs bread flour to bake a more rustic farmer's bread.

Nutrition

Serving: 1slice | Calories: 150kcal | Carbohydrates: 27g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 2g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 235mg | Potassium: 43mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g

Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate

Keyword Baked goods, Bread, Farmers bread
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Join the Conversation

  1. PRESTON J CLARK says:

    Norbert, hi, thank you for the recipe, after reviewing it though I do have one question. After mixing the ingredients of flour, yeast, salt and warm water then placing in a bowl, the recipe states to dust with flour. In your description of the recipe though, it mentions drizzling the dough with olive oil rather than flour. Do you have a preference here or will either method work? Thanks again!

    1. Norbert Author says:

      Great Catch, I will correct.
      Please drizzle and cover the dough with a little olive oil, no need for flour.
      The olive oil will prevent that the dough builds a crust during the fermentation. Thank you for the feedback

  2. Is it ok if i is let the dough rise less than 14 hours? It would come out more bland but it could still work?
    Thanks!

    1. Norbert Author says:

      The dough needs to rise. As long as the dough rises in volume you should be fine with less hours. Or you you need to increase the ammount of yeast, maybe double it ?
      How may hours are you thinking about ?

  3. Tatyana C says:

    I am very happy with the result!!! Thank you so much for sharing this amazing recipe. Never thought making bread can be that easy! Ive tried many different recipes before: bred maker was my first stage, than I’ve made my own starter from scratch, waiting and watching it develop for some time, gave up as the bread was never as nice as i wanted… and then I stumbled upon this AMAIZINGLY simple way that always gives a perfect outcome!!!
    I want to know if the same approach may work for rye? Please advice:)

    1. Norbert Author says:

      I love adding Rye flour, a small amount of rye – 5-10% of the total flour by weight – has a definite effect on the flavor of the bread, the bread’s overall flavor seems better

  4. should this be a very weight dough after the initial rise? I baked it today and it came out delicious, but dough was way more wet than I expected. Thanks

    1. Norbert Author says:

      Hi Matt, Yes the dough is kind of wet, definitely not a dough that you can roll. Glad that you enjoyed the recipe and that it came out delicious.
      Keep baking and thank you for the feedback

  5. Karen Kormos says:

    Made this today I’m loving it!! Mine got a tad too dark it looked perfect when I took the lid off but was afraid it would be undercooked on the inside so baked it without the lid for 15 min and it scorched a bit, I live at 6300 ft in Colorado, I have a cast iron Dutch oven, I plan to play around with the bake time and temp, any suggestions? I’m never buying store bought bread again Thank you for the great recipe!

    1. Norbert Author says:

      Karen, I’m glad you enjoyed baking the recipe and you telling me you will never buy store-bought bread again is just awesome. The way it sounds you baked a pretty good tasty bread.
      If the bread looked perfect and it had a perfect rise I think you were spot on, maybe there was no need to bake it additional 15 minutes at that temperature without the lid.???
      However having said that, I never baked at the 6300 ft, so I’m not an expert on high altitude baking. I would reduce baking time without the lid if needed by 5 or, 10 minutes and see if that will make a difference.
      So, unleash the bread baking beast in you and good luck with your next baking adventure.
      Thank you for your feedback and it would be great to hear from you and find out what adjustments worked for you

  6. Thanks for this recipe! When would you add the onions?

    1. Norbert Author says:

      I add the caramelized onions to the dough in step one, when I mix the dough by hand.
      Enjoy

  7. After I spread out the dough, fold it in thirds and then in half do I LEAVE IT ON A BOARD and cover with a towel for 2hrs? Then heat the empty dutch oven WITHOUT THE DOUGH IN IT at 500 degrees for 30 mins, put the dough in the hot dutch oven and bake with lid on for 30 mins @500 degrees, then cover off for 20 mins? Does putting it in the hot dutch oven keep it from sticking??

    1. Norbert Author says:

      Yes leave dough on the board covered with towel for 2 hours.
      Yes heat the dutch oven in oven for 30 minutes, you want the dutch oven to be hot
      Yes bake at 500 degrees for 30 minutes with lid and finnish without lid for 20 minutes.
      Yes the dough will not stick
      Good luck you will love the bread, let me know how it turned out

      1. I just made this bread and it’s delicious. I have a question though. My dough stuck and burned on the bottom. Any suggestions? I also had a lot of air pockets in the finished bread. What am I missing???

      2. Norbert Author says:

        Hi Bettina.
        All ovens work a little different, that may explain the burned bottom.
        Maybe remove the bread from the oven a few minutes earlier.????
        If the area is too warm, the bread will rise too fast and begin when placed to bake in the oven, to build large air pockets inside the dough. …
        Excess yeast causes extra air bubbles to form, creating holes in the baked bread
        After you let the dough rise for 24 hours, did you punch down the dough, kneading it briefly will remove large bubbles. I hope that helps best NB

  8. Jan Richards says:

    All I can say is Thank You for this wonderful recipe. I want to send the bread as a gift, 2 day priority. Do I under bake? What temperature should they reheat the bread.
    Thank you Norbert.

    1. Norbert Author says:

      Hi Jan, Im gald you like the bread recipe. I would not under bake, with a two day priority it should be fine. I personaly toast my sliced bread for that additional crispness.

  9. Tried this as this was also the first time we made bread. Came out great but just a little too hard of a crust. Crust was darker than the pictures show. Would it be better if this happens to lower the time without the lid from 20 minutes to 10 minutes?

    1. Norbert Author says:

      Ed thank you for the feedback.
      All ovens work a little different. I agree I would reduce the time without the lid to 10 minutes. You may need to play with the time a little.
      Let me know how it worked out, best Norbert

  10. Thank you. I really want to make this work. I’ll try again. Maybe my cast iron pot was too much.

  11. My oven only has 400℉ max. Was thinking, should I go for 45 mins with lid and then 30 mins without; what would you recommend

    1. Norbert Author says:

      It possibly could work. I would say keep watching it once you removed the lid. Good luck and let mw know if it worked

      1. Yeah, thanks for the tip, took it out without the lid in 25 mins. This recipe is fab and yet so simple. Am thinking of adding a bit of roasted and crushed fennel and cumin seed for flavour the next time.

      2. Norbert Author says:

        AWESOME, glad it worked – Yes is added Sunflower seeds and caramelized onions that added great flavor. Thank you for getting back to me

  12. Brendon Fowler says:

    This is a wonderful recipe. Extremely simple to make and it is better than anything you can get in most stores!

    Great Job with this one!

    1. Norbert Author says:

      Thank you for the feed back I’m glad you enjoyed the recipe, keep baking

    2. Is it ok to leave the dough for longer than 2 hours prior to putting in the oven?

      1. Norbert Author says:

        I don’t think that half-hour will make a difference. More than that the dough will very likely rise more. However how much the dough will rise can depend on the room temperature.
        So you would need to punch the dough down again and start over again

  13. Do you bake this in the 500 degree oven or do you turn the heat down? Seems awful hot to bake for 30 minutes and then another 20 without the lid.

    1. Norbert Author says:

      No need to turn down heat.
      Heat oven to with the Dutch oven to 500 degrees bake bread for 30 minutes with lid and 20 minutes without a lid.
      Works like a charm good luck and let me know how it turned out
      Best NB

      1. Mine was almost too brown after 30 minutes with the lid on and not done in the middle. Also stuck to the pan. Help

      2. Norbert Author says:

        Hi Anne I never had that problem, for me the recipe works every time like a dream. Maybe your oven gets too hot ?? Maybe try at 400 F and 20 minutes without lid ?
        That is the only explanation I can think of .

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